Project: Entry-Level Rainwater Collection

I've been jonesing for a massive rainwater collection system. I dream of freedom from the 40-pound salt bags, and no more heavy mineral smells. I long for squeaky-clean shiny dishes, clothes that line-dry soft, and hair that doesn't need a weekly vinegar soaking to be rid of mineral buildup. I've promised Spouse, however, that we'll get his the garage-slash-pottery studio built first. It's been a slow process saving up the money for the build, but I'd much rather build as we can afford than to take out a loan in this economy.

Anyhow: rainwater collection. Right. There's a bit more involved than one would think at first glance. Our neighbors down the road have a wonderful system, and they've graciously pointed out some of the issues and pitfalls we need to know. But in the meantime, I've decided to ease that rainwater collection jones a bit by doing something much smaller in scale, and out of my own discretionary funds: fitting our chicken coop with a miniature rainwater collection system.

Our chicken coop is a 10'x10' modified big-box hardware store pre-fab shed. The measly 100 square foot roof could potentially collect 1500 gallons of water a year (with below-average 25" annual rainfall) according to Tank Depot's online calculator. The roof is made of corrugated metal, which is a good medium for rainwater collection but has its issues like any other roofing material. Some are of the opinion that to be absolutely safe for drinking (potable), metal roofing should get an approved protective coating of paint to guard against oxidized runoff, but for the chicken coop, I might hold off until/if we decide to get our house roof covered. If an emergency comes up, we can always use a commercial filter like a Brita to get any possible metals filtered, and then for pathogen deterrence either do solar pasteurization in our Sun Oven or use a bit of chlorine bleach.

Some of the bare bones of initially gathering the rainwater: gutters, debris filter (to filter out leaves and such), and "first flush" diverters (which divert the "first flush" of roof-caught rainwater away from storage in the rain barrels. The first flush usually has dust, pollen, bird poo and the like that has collected on the roof since the last rain). Our hardware store has the gutters, no problem. The debris filter and "first flush" diverter I would have to either make on my own, or purchase online. I've opted for the latter, and have ordered
Rain Harvesting Pty 3" First Flush (model WDDS99) and the Rain Harvesting Pty Original Leaf Eater Downspout Filter (model RHLE99). There's a couple of all-in-one filter and first flush models, but am thinking I'd like to get to know the basics before getting fancy. Once the filter and diverter are received, I'll purchase the gutters and start installing on the coop. Of course, I'll have to get rain barrels acquired and set up as well. More on this project to come...

photo: metal chicken sculpture getting soaked during a rare Summer 2011 rain.


  1. If it works out well for y'all, maybe you can help us do an urban version.

  2. It's amazing how much you can collect, even if you are just getting dew -- we have 5 gal buckets set up along one of our garages and collect enough to water the birds for a week or so.

    GREAT to see you blogging again, Deb. I miss your posts. :)

  3. @Nancy: thanks, hope to blog more often now that the (relatively) cooler weather is setting in. That's an amazing amount of water you're gathering just from dew alone!

  4. Deb,

    You left out a part....

    The rain dance!

    I have a 1500 sq. ft. shop that this would be ideal for, as well as a solar water heater. But again, we need some rain first.

  5. @Chris: LOL, right! Our town will occasionally put on a "rain dance" (with drummers, people in bunny suits, and the like); perhaps I should suggest another one soon :-).

    How do you like your solar water heater?

  6. We are doing a screwball job of collecting water for our 2000 gallon cistern. Gosh it's huge when it is empty. Anyhow, please do more posts as your progress continues!

  7. Storing rainwater in water tanks seems to be a nice idea and It’s also nice to see some good measures are being taken for encouraging the installation of water harvesting systems locally.

  8. It's good to gather rainwater! It can be used in gardening, right? Well, the water tanks should have protective coating. The rain can cause them to rust, which isn't a good thing.

    Alex Galletti


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